McCormick & Co. will add outsiders to its board of directors before next year's annual meeting and will consider naming a woman to the board, Chairman Harry K. Wells promised stockholders today.
Stockholders of the big Baltimore spice and real estate company have complained for years about their lack of representation on the board, now made up exclusively of white, male McCormick executives.
Wells said the board made a decision last December "that outside directors of outstanding qualifications now would be sought and invited to join the board."
"At this time no candidates have been selected," the McCormick chairman added, but "it is currently expected that prior to the 1983 annual meeting we will have identified and selected candidates as new directors who are not employed or affiliated with the company."
Some stockholders applauded when a woman in the audience asked why the company, whose products are purchased mostly by women, has no women on its board.
"As we look at outside directors, we will be looking at eligible female candidates," Wells responded.
With earnings up 127 percent last year and ahead another 18 percent for the first quarter of 1982, McCormick stockholders had little else to complain about.
President Hillsman V. Wilson, however, warned that McCormick's performance this year will not be as good. "We will have some difficulty meeting our long-term growth objectives in 1982," Wilson said.
Stockholders approved increasing the amount of McCormick's publicly traded common stock from 12 million shares to 30 million shares. The additional shares could be issued to acquire other companies or sold to raise funds for expansion, company officials said.
Analysts suggested the threat of issuing new shares also could be used by McCormick to fend off an unfriendly takeover attempt such as that made last year by Sandoz Ltd. of Switzerland.
Grocery products have provided the bulk of McCormick's sales and profits in recent years, but the company's real estate division "will increase at a greater rate than our overall corporate objective" in coming years, Wilson added.
McCormick Properties, the real estate division, began developing a 230-acre business park called Inglewood next door to the Capital Centre in Prince George's County last year and also opened Shawan Center, a 53-acre executive office park adjacent to the huge Hunt Valley development where the annual meeting was conducted
At Hunt Valley, McCormick recently opened a taco factory to produce foods for McCormick & Co.'s newest national brand product line, Tio Sancho, promoted as "the Mexican restaurant you take home."
Stockholders attending the annual meeting today found a box of the new taco shells in the bag of free products McCormick gives away to encourage investors to attend the corporate conclave.
Besides luring stockholders, the annual freebies also show the broad assortment of food sold around the world by McCormick. This year's goodies included cheese-flavored popcorn mix now being introduced in the United States; three kinds of salad dressing with bilingual labels.